Catnip, Marmite, and Whittaker’s Chocolate

It’s short story time, so head on over to this week’s offering here, or read on for some background, and a ramble about the things we miss when we move away.


I’m sure my nana had those glasses.

One of the things that you don’t think about, when you’re eighteen and heading out into the world, is that not everywhere will have Marmite. Not New Zealand Marmite, anyway, and as I’ve discussed at length before, any other form is nothing but a treacle-coloured imitation. Whittaker’s chocolate, for some strange reason, is another product that has failed to travel. Inconceivable, really, when you consider they’re just giant slabs of chocolately bliss.

These days, it’s not such an issue – you have all these delivery companies that will happily post you everything you might miss from home, even if you’re weird and like pineapple lumps and burger rings (seriously, I tried those when I moved back to Australia for a while – they’re awful. Evidently teenage me had no taste). This was not the case when I originally left New Zealand, so for a while there my every trip back ended with me dragging an almost-but-not-quite overweight bag through the airport, laden with supplies to last me until the next trip. The first time I went back after being away for probably six years, I discovered 1.2kg jars of Marmite. 1.2kg. Oh yes.

They taste of dust and sadness. What were you thinking, teenage me?

I’m not quite such a hoarder these days, partly because it’s easier to order things on-line than to hope your bag of chocolate and Marmite doesn’t get either squished or left in the sun, and partly because things start tasting different. I don’t know if Whittaker’s has changed its recipe, or if I just remember it differently, but ever since food hygiene was invented and they actually started to wrap their bars, it doesn’t taste the same. It’s still the best chocolate around, but I’m not quite so obsessive over it.

However. Layla is one of those cats that isn’t fussed about catnip, in the normal course of things. Yeah, she’ll have a snuffle of the leaves, but it doesn’t send her silly. And then we discovered a certain brand of Australian catnip.

Gold. Yes it is.

This particular brand is some crazy strain that Layla likes a lot. As in, rubbing it all over her face while crying in delight a lot. And she’s destroyed all the toys that we brought back with us, so I figure this trip my luggage on the way home will consist of Marmite, Tim-Tams (biscuits of joy), and as many of that particular brand of catnip toys as I can find. Which, on reflection, might look a little weird coming through the airport.

“Anything to declare, ma’am?”

“Ah – cat toys, yeast spread, and sugary snacks?”

It’ll be worth it, though.

Read The Smuggler now!


How about you? What do you miss when you’re away from home? Anything you remember loving as a kid that now doesn’t taste the same?

Happiness is Australian catnip.

6 thoughts on “Catnip, Marmite, and Whittaker’s Chocolate

  1. I so know what you mean about foods you miss. When I was living overseas I used to order Milky Bars, and whenever I came home I stocked up on a particular brand of dried soup mix.

    Layla is so lucky!

    *she says looking at half a packet of Burger Rings*

    1. No! You still eat the orange rings of sadness?

      I’ve also returned with five packs of Maggie oriental flavour 2-minute noodles, because a friend misses them from her Australian backpacking days. Food obsessions are odd.

  2. So what does Marmite taste like. You write that it should be “beautifully thick and dark” but please tell us more!

    1. Umm. That’s a really hard question! It’s a yeast spread (sounds yum, right?), so very savoury. You don’t use much of it, just a scraping over buttered bread. I can’t honestly think of anything I could say it tastes similar to!

  3. I (of course) can’t think of anything offhand that I loved as a child and now don’t, but I know there are such things. Every so often, I’ll eat something and think that the memory of how it tasted far surpasses the actual, present-day experience, haha. Maybe s’mores are the closest thing I can come up with on the fly, but only because I can’t eat more than one anymore without becoming tired of the taste and wishing I’d simply eaten a chocolate bar.

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